July 15, 2013

 

 U.S. given improved BSE risk rating

Posted July 1, 2013

 

The U.S. has a negligible risk of bovine spongiform encephalopathy infection, according to the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE).

OIE officials announced May 29 that the organization’s delegates had approved that “negligible” risk rating for the U.S. and five other countries. The rating is more favorable to the U.S. than the previous assessment that the nation had a “controlled” risk. Israel, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, and Slovenia also received the “negligible” risk rating.

The delegates approved the changes during the general session of the OIE’s World Assembly of Delegates, held May 26-31 in Paris.

U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said in an announcement that the change was an achievement many years in the making. Government and businesses had worked to protect public and animal health, he said, expressing hope that the improved rating would help the U.S. increase beef exports.

“This decision demonstrates OIE’s belief that both our surveillance for, and safeguards against, BSE are strong,” he said.

Four BSE-infected cattle have been found in the U.S. from 2003-2012. The most recently discovered case was confirmed to be an atypical infection, a rare form of the disease likely unconnected with contaminated animal feed, the route through which the degenerative and fatal disease typically spreads.

USDA officials have indicated that the two next most recent of those infections also likely were connected with atypical BSE.